With the state budget hurting amid COVID-19 and a past commitment from Gov. Laura Kelly to sign a medical marijuana bill, this session may present the most realistic shot yet at passing meaningful cannabis policies.
By Noah Taborda, Kansas Reflector
After a shortened session dashed hopes for medicinal cannabis legalization in 2020, proponents of the plant are taking a fresh approach for the upcoming legislative session.
Last year, two separate bills were filed pushing for medicinal use, but both died in committee, despite a push to consider cannabis legislation in June when lawmakers convened for a special session. One of the bills offered a more conservative cannabis policy, like that of Ohio.
This year, those pushing to pass the bill are working to create collaborative legislation that appeals to both sides of the aisle, said Daniel Shafton, a consultant for the Kansas Cannabis Business Association.
Shafton said the KSCBA has put significant effort into meetings and webinars with stakeholders and legislators to inform the bill they plan to propose.
“We need to have a cohesive message,” Shafton said. “We were very honest about what needed to happen for us to move forward, and we have been very successfully able to bring a lot of voices to the table in a unified way. We have designed this bill alongside the legislators in a way that really accomplishes major goals from the 2021 Legislature of both sides of the aisle.”
In Kansas, which has already authorized hemp production and the sale of cannabidiol products without tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the next step is legalized medical use. Although such legislation has failed in the past, advocates are confident perception is shifting enough to see a bill through the House and Senate.
Erin Montroy, co-president and CEO of the KSCBA, said a bill will be